Tech Layoffs: What’s Next for Affected H1B Visa Holders

The news about Twitter’s massive layoff of an estimated 50% of its entire workforce has remained a major headline as it seems other tech companies are also laying off significant portions of their employees. Meta is rumored to announce a major layoff of thousands of employees by Wednesday, November 9, which was hinted at during their Q3 earnings call. This would likely equate to about 10% to 20% of Meta’s entire workforce.

Update – 11/9/22

Meta has announced a layoff of 11,000 employees, which is 13% of their entire workforce.

The layoffs don’t stop at Twitter and Meta – last week, Stripe laid off 14% of its staff and Lyft fired over 700 employees, while GoFundMe also cut 12% in October. Peloton is another company that has laid off thousands of workers since the beginning of 2022, along with companies like Re/Max, Netflix, and Shopify.

It appears that the massive layoffs in major companies around the world are due to the growing concerns of a looming economic recession and the result of decreased revenues and steadily rising labor costs. Even more so, layoffs and less opportunities for employment brings the question of what options H1B visa holders will have if they find themselves cut from their job.

H1B Visa Holders: What to Do Next if You’re Laid Off

When an H1B visa holder’s employment is terminated, the status of their H1B visa also ends. The employer needs to file a withdrawal of the employee’s H1B visa petition with the USCIS. However, even with H1B status removed, the visa holder may still remain in the US for a period of time. 

A laid off H1B employee is authorized to stay in the US until the expiration of their I-94 admission or approval, or for up to 60 consecutive days, whichever is shorter. Make sure to check your I-94 expiration, because if it is shorter than 60 days, that is the amount of time you have to find a new job, apply for change of status, or leave the US. This 60-day grace period allows an H1B holder to seek a change of status or find a new employer to file an H1B petition on their behalf to avoid having to leave the US.

It is recommended by experts to try and preserve your visa status if you have been laid off. Better yet, if you feel that a lay off is approaching at your company, it is best to try and start looking for jobs as soon as possible to get ahead. Preserving your visa status will protect you in the future, because failure to maintain your status can results in denial of future applications for extension or status change.

With the massive layoffs and the holidays approaching, it is becoming increasingly worrisome for those who were terminated under H1B visas to find a new job quickly. It is recommended by experts to start applying for new jobs as soon as possible to transfer your H1B status. As soon as the USCIS receives notice of your new employer’s H1B change of employer petition, you may begin working. 

Other Options if New Employment is Unsuccessful

Of course, it is the USCIS’s discretion whether or not your new employer’s petition will be approved. In the instance you don’t have a transfer job lined up after around 45 days after your termination, you can consider filing an I-539 application to change your status from H1B to B1/B2 to give yourself more time to leave the US. Another option is if your spouse has an H1B or F1 visa, for example, you may have the opportunity to change your status to a dependent visa, such as an H4 visa.

If you are out of options and cannot find a new job, the best course of action is to leave the US in a timely manner and according to your grace period. This will help you avoid having unlawful immigration status if you stay in the US, and allows you to keep a clean record so you won’t have trouble applying for a new visa in the future.

For more information on your specific situation, visit LawBench to speak with an immigration lawyer today or chat with others on our forum sister website, Trackitt.